Monday, September 9, 2013

Gish Sisters Have Imperfect Noses -- The Gish Sisters -- September 9, 2013

New York Evening World, December 28, 1922.

"Gish sisters have imperfect noses and their lips are too large."  Jerk.  I would like to see him say that to Dorothy.  She might have rendered his nose less perfect. 

This post is part of  the Gish Sisters Blogathon hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently and Lindsey at The Motion Pictures.   Dorothy and Lillian Gish made their motion picture debut 101 years ago on 09-September-1912.  Be sure to click on most images to see larger versions.
Sisters Lillian and Dorothy Gish made their film debut 101 years ago, on 09-September-1912.  The girls had moved to New York when their Ohio home burned down.  They got to know their next door neighbor, child actress Gladys Smith.  Lillian and Dorothy became actresses and models.  Gladys, who would soon change her name to Mary Pickford, persuaded them to visit the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company's studio at 11 East 14th Street in Manhattan.  Director DW Griffith approved of the sisters and put them to work.  The image above is from their first movie, "An Unseen Enemy."

In the first of three posts for Gish Sisters Blogathon, I featured younger sister Dorothy Gish, who is often overlooked because her sister Lillian is considered one of the greatest American actresses.  In the second post I wrote about Lillian, and in this, the third I am writing about the sisters' work and life together.  In each post, I will cobble together a variety of newspaper and magazine items, looking for interesting items about the lives of the Gish sisters. 

I don't want to appear ungentlemanly, but I should point out that the Gishes, like many people in show business, were flexible about stating their ages and years of birth.

Moving Picture World, November 21, 1914.

 Dorothy and Lillian followed Griffith from the Biograph to Reliance-Majestic and beyond.  I like the ad above which has Dorothy in a two-reeler and Lillian and Blanch Sweet, another blonde Biograph alumna, in one-reelers. 

Photoplay, March, 1915.
This item mentions Dorothy's auto accident in December, 1914.  "Both girls have proved themselves under David W. Griffith's tutelage, capital comediennes."  This is, I think, the only time I have seen Lillian referred to as a comedienne.

Photoplay, September, 1915.
Mr. DW Biogriffith.

Moving Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1916. 

Lillian rated a photo in the 1916 Moving Picture Studion Directory and Trade Annual.  Some of the information is wrong. 

Photoplay, June, 1917.
Photoplay, September, 1917.

Photoplay, October, 1917.
Photoplay, October, 1917.

Griffith took Lillian and Dorothy across the Atlantic, risking attacks by German submarines, to make two movies.  Hearts of the World was a big hit that boosted the careers of both sisters.

Photoplay, January, 1918.
Bobby Harron was another Biograph alumnus.  He never got drafted.

Photoplay, July, 1918.
Photoplay's Answer Man welcomes the Gish sisters' return in Hearts of the World because he got so many letters while they were away and before the movie was released.

Photoplay, August, 1918.

The article is about Lillian, but the wonderfully lit photo shows the Gish Sisters in their dressing room.

Photoplay, February, 1920.

Photoplay, March, 1920.

DW Griffith had to leave for Cuba, so he gave Lillian the script of Dorothy's next movie, Remodeling Her Husband, and told her to direct it.  As one might expect, Lillian did a good job.  Sadly, she never wanted or got the opportunity to direct another movie.  Dorothy's leading man was James Rennie, whom she would wind up marrying.

Photoplay, June, 1921.

Lillian and Dorothy flank their mother Mary.  "The Gish Girls Talk About Each Other."

"'Dorothy likes to spend money,' said Lillian.  'I fear poverty.  I have resolved that when I am old I shall have more than one dress and three hundred dollars.'

"'All we have in common is our mother.'" 

"'Dorothy likes to go about.  She mingles with people.  I don't.'"

"'Lillian used to put beans up her nose.'  From the mask of comedy.

"'Dorothy would never keep quiet.  Once she was spanked for it.'  From the mask of tragedy.

"'Lillian cried because I was spanked.  She cried long after I had stopped.  She could always cry easily and make others cry in sympathy."

Photoplay, November, 1921.
Dorothy and Lillian's last movie with DW Griffith was Orphans of the Storm, which was adapted from an old melodrama, The Two Orphans.

Photoplay, December, 1921.

Photoplay, March, 1922.

Orphans of the Storm got a rave review from Photoplay.  "Don't miss this."

Photoplay, June, 1922.
"Lillian and Dorothy Gish, fragile girlish types entirely unlike the famous beauties of yesterday."

Photoplay, June, 1922.
While promoting Orphans of the Storm, Lillian and Dorothy visited fellow Ohioans President and Mrs Harding at the White House.

Photoplay, August, 1922.
Photoplay chose Orphans of the Storms as one of the best pictures of the year, along with Tol'able David, The Three Musketeers and Foolish Wives.  Lillian Gish ranked first on the list of best screen performances of the year.

Photoplay, November, 1922.
The mention of Tol'able David in the best pictures list above is interesting because it was produced by Inspiration Pictures, whose president, Charles H. Duell, Jr. would make a lot of trouble for Dorothy and especially Lillian.  See Lillian's post for more details.

Photoplay, September, 1923.
Dorothy and Jim Rennie pose with Lillian, after Lillian returned from Rome, where she made The White Sister for Inspiration Pictures.  She would soon head back with Dorothy to make Romola, which would be the sisters' last movie together.  Look at the larger version.  I don't know what to make of their expressions.  Do they look comfortable?

I am sorry that the sisters never appeared together in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace as Martha and Abby Brewster. 

Dorothy Gish died on 04-June-1968.  Her sister Lillian was by her side.  When Lillian died on 27-February-1993, she was buried next to Dorothy.  

Film Fun, August, 1919.
And finally, Film Fun reprinted a cartoon from the London Tatler.  I like the caricatures of Lillian Gish and DW Griffith, but I don't like the face of Dorothy Gish.  The mandolin is appropriate for The Little Disturber in Hearts of the World.  And Lillian should be taller than Dorothy. 

This post was part of the Gish Sisters Blogathon, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently and Lindsey at The Motion Pictures.  Thank you to both of them for all the hard work.  Thank you to everyone who visited and I encourage you to read as many posts as you can.  

My posts for the blogathon:
Post One: Have You Been Gished? -- Dorothy Gish
Post Two:  Don't You Wish You Were a Gish? -- Lillian Gish
Post Three: Gish Sisters Have Imperfect Noses -- The Gish Sisters



Fritzi Kramer said...

Oh my goodness! Lillian Gish put beans up her nose? Ha ha ha!

That "Imperfect Nose" fellow has his nerve. I would love to see a photograph of him (not a loving ink drawing) to see how his masculine beauty measures up. Methinks we could find a few faults.

Joe Thompson said...

Hi Fritzi. I'm happy you liked it. Beans up the nose was a nice touch, along with Dorothy's observation that Lillian could always cry at will and make everyone else cry.

I tried to find a photo of the artist Penrhyn Stanlaws (pretentious name), but nothing was very clear. Look him up in Google Images and you'll see he was a pretty good artist. At least the Gishes didn't have "horse nostrils" like poor Betty Blythe. I would have horsewhipped him. If I had a horse.

Patti said...

Wow, what wonderful posts! You have included so much wonderful information and so many incredible photos. Definitely, your entries are terrific additions to the blogathon.

Thank you for all the time and effort you put into giving your readers a Gish-filled education.

Joe Thompson said...

Thank you for the kind words, Patti. I love sharing information.

Anonymous said...

What a delightful post! I love the 1922 Photoplay image of the Gish sisters - in fact I love most of the ones you posted. Thank you for sharing!

Joe Thompson said...

I'm glad you liked the post. The picture of the sisters in the garden is wonderful. That was a great blogathon.